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The Beacon NY delegation: Cheyenne Schoen, Ben Arthur, Nancy Copic, Clare Duffy, Malika Andrews and Rachel Rippetoe

The Beacon NY delegation: Cheyenne Schoen, Ben Arthur, Nancy Copic, Clare Duffy, Malika Andrews and Rachel Rippetoe

By Nancy Copic, Beacon adviser

A few conference highlights compiled from 19 (!) pages of handwritten notes:

Keynote: Byron Pitts, reporter for ABC’s “Nightline”

This keynote was more inspirational than many sermons I’ve heard, and I’ve heard a lot of them. Byron Pitts may tell stories for a living, but his personal story is as compelling as any he’s reported as a network correspondent.

Raised by a young, low-income single mother in Baltimore, Pitts said he didn’t learn how to read until he was 12 or 13. Around that time, a “specialist” diagnosed him as mentally retarded and advised his mother to institutionalize him.  “Because you’re a person of limited means,” Pitts quoted the man as saying, “we recommend you put him an an institution.”

His mother wouldn’t have it, didn’t do that. What she did is take her boy to church.  A lot. She also wore a pendant in the shape of a mustard seed, a symbol of the faith that guides Pitts today.

“Raised Baptist, educated Catholic,” he says.

Pitts

Pitts ended up at Ohio Wesleyan University, where, as Pitts puts it, a professor saved his life. But first, another one told him he didn’t have what it took to succeed there. That news hit him hard, left him crying in a hallway on campus. Another professor, who was new to campus, noticed him crying and asked what was wrong. When he told her what the other professor said, she set him straight and told him not to give up. He stayed and he graduated.

Flash forward decades. Pitt is a famous Emmy-winning television journalist and he’s on the Board of Trustees at Ohio Wesleyan, who invites him to speak at graduation. Pitts tells his story at the ceremony, including the part about the professor who made him cry. After his speech, that professor, humbled and contrite walks up to him and tells him he’s sorry.

Did I mentioned he also was a stutterer when he was younger? “Being a stutterer has made me a better listener, ” he says

What bothers him? Indifference. He sees journalism an antidote.

“My profession needs you,” he said to the room full of student journalists from all over the country. “You are needed not just to speak the truth. You’re needed to help this world be better.”

Pitts thinks one of the most remarkable stories is about the resilience of the African American people as a race.

“I am the hope and dream of a slave,” he said. “My worst day is the best day for my great grandparents.”

Also, he writes thank you notes to everyone he interviews.

I think that’s remarkable. So is the fact that he stayed at least two hours to talk one-on-one with students who lined up to chat with him.

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Of course, Malika was one of them.

FBI Strategies of Interviewing

This was engaging. Clare, Cheyenne and Malika also gave it good reviews. Here are the strategies:

  1. Withhold judgment- Keep your feelings to yourself. Monitor your posture and tone. Give your source room to be who they are. (Verbal abuse does not work.)
  2. “Joining” Use language that shows you understand things from the other person’s perspective.
  3. “Mirroring”- Mimic body posture of the person you’re interviewing. If he leans back, you lean back (but not right away.)
  4.  Show curiosity- Use your body to show your curiosity. Nod at what they’re saying.
  5. Active Listening-Resist the urge to formulate your next question.
  6. Pay attention to personality types. Are they “thinking” types or “feeling” types?

Bonus tip for students: If your nervous for the interview, tell your source. It may create empathy.

 

Rachel, Cheyenne and Ben show their Beacon pride outside the theatre where Stephen Cobert does The Late Show

Rachel, Cheyenne and Ben show their Beacon pride outside the theatre where Stephen Colbert does The Late Show

Glossy Standards-The Ethics of Magazine Reporting and Editing

This panel featured:

  • Deborah Blum, Pulitzer-Prize winning science journalist and director of the Knight Science Journalism Program at MIT
  • Hank Hersch, assistant managing editor at Sports Illustrated
  • Andrew Seaman, chair of the ethics committee for the Society of Professional Journalists and senior medical journalist for Reuters in NYC
  • Derek Kravitz, contributing writer and news editor at The Wall Street Journal; researcher/instructor at Columbia University School of Journalism

The focus of this panel was fact checking and ethical debacles such as the Rolling Stone Rape story that was later discredited and actor Sean Penn’s (called “the ultimate freelancer.” by Andrew Seaman) much-maligned profile of drug lord El Chappo Guzman.

One interesting tidbit; If you’re a reporter for the Wall Street Journal and your published story needs to be corrected, the process is “incredibly embarrassing,” according to Derek Kravitz. You have to fill out a long form, which is circulated among several editors.

Andrews Seaman,Deboarh Blum ,Derek Kravitz and Hank Hersch

Andrews Seaman,Deboarh Blum ,Derek Kravitz and Hank Hersch

Big takeaway:”Keep that skeptical part of your brain always active.”

Beacon staffers getting their fact check on

Beacon staffers getting their fact check on

I lucked out with my chaperoning assignment. I escorted a group of students (from various universities from across the country) on a tour of the New York Times.

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Due to security concerns, we were not allowed to take photographs in the newsroom. But the lobby is interesting and was fair game. There’s a unique electronic art display that siphons words and phrases from the NYT’s 150+ years of archives and runs them like electronic teletypes across dozens of mounted screens that look like elongated smart phones.

In the lobby of the New York Times

Another interesting symbolic architectural element of the building: There are two banks of elevators. One for the editorial staffers, the other for people who work in sales and marketing. Get it? The business side should never mesh with the editorial side. Or so that was the thinking way back in 2007.

The courtyard (or “lobby garden”) of the building features sedges, ferns and birch trees, an earthy contrast to the surrounding steel and glass.

 

Birch trees and grass grow within the TImes complex.

One of the most relevant sessions at the conference was called “Manage Your Digital Workflow.” It was presented by Roman Heindorff, founder of Camayak.

Tips I found most relevant here:

  • Brand every piece of content.
  • Improve the access outside contributors have to pitch ideas to your newsroom
  • Only invest in writers you see a future with. You can’t keep shoving resources at people who just kind of stick around the newsroom and don’t grow.
  • Show reporters their metrics; show them their stories relative to their peers
  • Reward people. Incentivize (pizza?)
  • While working on a story is a good time to start promoting the story vis social media to get a buzz going.

And in our down time, we went to The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore. The topic of the night: Donald Trump’s racist supporters

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Cheyenne, Ben, Malika, Nancy and Clare in TImes Square. Rachel was touring CBS.

Cheyenne, Ben, Malika, Nancy and Clare in Times Square. Rachel was touring CBS.

One more thing: The Beacon came in Second Place in the Apple Awards. Not bad!

-Nancy Copic, Ass’t Director for Student Media

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Our Beacon group looking out over Manhattan after walking across the Brooklyn Bridge.

by Malika Andrews |

The media industry has always relied heavily on personal interaction, whether it’s the television news anchor with the sparkly white smile or the local paperboy dropping off the morning edition on the doorstep every morning.

But media conferences can often be impersonal and formal, with many people trying to listen to a single speaker in a classroom-type setting. In that environment, it can be difficult to build the connections that an anchor has with his or her audience or even that a Facebook user might have with his or her friend when they share articles.

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Clare and I visited the New York Times Building on Friday. I am excited to go back and spend time with the NYT editors next week!

This year was my second year in a row attending the College Media Association (CMA) conference in New York and it was my third media conference with The Beacon. My goal this year was to make the most of the conference experience while also seeking out the personal side that drives the industry. My week in New York showed me that one-on-one interaction is more crucial than ever to aspiring media personalities.

On my second day in New York, I walked into the Wall Street Journal building to meet Miriam, a 33-year-old financial reporter who I met through a friend with whom I covered Portland Trail Blazers. Miriam toured me around the building and introduced my to the WSJ’s Pulitzer prize-winning sports editor. Although he had never seen my work or met me before, he told me he was impressed that I had made the effort to come visit and he gave me his card. We’ve been emailing back and forth since, proving that going the extra mile (or 6,000 miles round-trip) to get face time can really make a difference.

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Cheyenne, Ben, Clare, and I after placing second in the Apple Awards for best newspaper for schools under 5,000 students.

I‘m learning that making the extra effort is what sets you apart in the media industry. I set meetings with five different journalists in my seven days in the city and spent time in three different newsrooms and television stations, which helped expose me to even more aspects of the industry. Spending time at Sports Illustrated made me realize that working for them — something that I have dreamed about since I was a kid — is within my reach.

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Clare Duffy (left) and I on the set of The Today Show.

The CMA conference sessions were informative and one of the speakers, Byron Pitts of ABC News, offered moving words about the opportunities that each of us in attendance have. He told us that he believed “with every fiber of my being, that each of you has the ability to change the wold.” That really made me think about the network I have built and the doors it has opened for me. More than that, if and when I make it, I am obligated to give back and give someone else a door into industry. Looking back, though, I think that the most valuable part of the experience in New York was walking around the city, shaking hands with working media professionals, and seeing how and where the news gets made. As I made a conscious effort not to look up at the skyscrapers (a dead giveaway you’re a tourist) and walk quickly, in pace with the city, I couldn’t help but feel an intense sense of belonging. The information I took from the conference was helpful, but the personal connections I made were truly inspiring.

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Susman is showing us the belt she hid $800 in, which helped her escape after she was kidnapped. On the screen is a photo of her celebrating after getting free.

Susman shows us the belt she hid $800 in, which helped her escape after she was kidnapped. On the screen is a photo of her celebrating after getting free.

by Clare Duffy |

Many people, when you tell them you want to be a journalist, look at you like you’ve just grown a second head.

Even more people, when you tell them you want to be a foreign correspondent, look at you like you’ve grown a third.

And the majority of people, when you tell them that a former foreign correspondent’s story of being kidnapped on the job and talking her way out of it made you excited, will look at you with the half-confused, half-sympathetic smile of someone who’s just realized the person they’ve been talking to doesn’t actually speak English, and shuffle away.

Welcome to many an uncomfortable family dinner I’ve attended in recent years.

But it’s true, and Tina Susman’s presentation about her career as a foreign correspondent was thus truly the cherry on top of my CMA 2016 experience.

What had once seemed such a foreign and far-off goal for my future (no pun intended), became so vividly real and tangible, as she recounted memories of a harrowing drive through the Kashmir Mountains and wandering in disguise through the streets of Baghdad.

Not a great photo, but on the screen (left) is Susman dressed as an Iraqi woman standing next to an older Iraqi woman she met on the street.

Not a great photo, but on the screen (left) is Susman dressed as an Iraqi woman standing next to an older Iraqi woman she met on the street.

And beyond the wild experiences she had had and the horrible things she had seen, Susman spoke of the goodness of many of the people she encountered along the way, and this truly hit at the heart of why I want to be a journalist abroad. People who speak different languages helping one another to make sure marginalized voices are heard, people of vastly disparate backgrounds coming together to promote the spread of truth in times of crisis, this power for social good that journalism allows has driven me in this direction. And in every sad or upsetting or infuriating story she told, these bits shined through – the translator who helped her when she knew no one after being sent on a last-minute assignment to cover the earthquake in Haiti, the hotel bellman who aided in her escape after being kidnapped in Somalia, the other foreign journalists living abroad whom she would invite over for tea in the midst of an often chaotic work environment.

I’m not sure where I’ll end up when I leave school and can stop pretending to devote my resources to anything other than journalism (just kidding, Mom), but I hope that wherever I am, I’ll be able to speak with the humble candor and genuine appreciation for the experiences that Susman exuded during her presentation. And that I, too, will be so willing to help and encourage young journalists that I’ll stay an hour beyond my allotted presentation time to answer their questions.

Thank you, Tina.

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Clare and Malika: The next Kathie and Hoda?

Clare and Malika: The next Kathie and Hoda?

by Clare Duffy |

Networking: A word that strikes fear into the hearts of many, mine included.

Until I discovered that “networking,” when done properly, is really just a fancy way of saying, “talking with smart, passionate people about things that you love” – that doesn’t sound half bad, does it? Not to mention that building a network is crucial in the journalism industry: people who are also new to the trade and seasoned vets, people in a variety of different positions and specialties, people who can give you advice and to whom you can offer something as well.

All this we’d been working on since our first professional conference experience at ONA15 in September. And it came in handy just hours after we’d touched down in New York for CMA16 and were talking about everything from marriage to interviewing Oprah with an editor from Ebony Magazine.

Making these kinds of connections is all about putting yourself out there, keeping them is all about maintaining relationships without always asking for something and you can take advantage of them when you’re in their city and take them for coffee or visit their newsroom.

The view from the Time Inc. building at sunset.

The view from the Time Inc. building at sunset.

While we were in New York, we visited the Washington Post, Sports Illustrated and the Today Show, and had coffee with reporters at CBS and International Business Journal. When it comes to setting up these sorts of meetings, don’t be afraid to ask – people generally like talking about what they do and showing younger journalists the ropes. But, also be extra gracious and thankful, as they are no doubt pushing back a deadline or extending their workday for you.

Behind the scenes at the Today Show.

Behind the scenes at the Today Show.

In each of these meetings, there were several common pieces of advice:

  1. Seek out and appreciate good editors.
  2. Respect the learning process and don’t try to jump too far too fast without a solid foundation.
  3. It’s all about who you know, so keep making and maintaining these kinds of connections (you never know where they might take you).

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“Deadlines and Dilemmas: Media Ethics on the Job”

From Rebecca Taylor

by Cheyenne Schoen

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It is important to be ethical when working in the media because…

  • Reporters, even early in their careers, have significant power.
  • Reporters, even rookies, enjoy significant autonomy in the field.
  • Reporters, even rookies, have great discretion to make editorial decisions.
  • Reporters operate under tight deadlines.

The consequences of being unethical in reporting can include:

  • Job loss
  • Career loss
  • Impact on news organization
  • Impact on the subject
  • Impact on the profession

Tips:

  • When dealing with the survivors of victims, knock once or twice and then leave a business card. Most survivors want to have the chance to say something about their loved ones, and will likely call you when they can.
  • Figure out what footage you can get or angles or perspectives you can take that other news stations don’t have.
  • Reporters must be able to shoot and edit video.
  • If you are unsure if something is acceptable to air, run it by your editor and ask if they are okay with it.
  • Be able to express your sentiment with covering certain stories that you may feel differently about than your editors.
  • You’ll be asked to conceal information a lot – don’t do it for favoritism.
  • Always keep your editors informed about what is going on.
  • If you are using footage from your archives, you must indicate that it is footage from the archives.

Duties as journalists:

You have a duty to be fair and accurate, honest, to avoid conflict of interests and to minimize harm.

Your duties are owed to: your profession, readers (audience), employers, the source and society.

Questionable reporting techniques:

  • Hidden mics/cameras
  • Reenactments
  • Faking natural sound (such as an ambulance)
  • Video deception
  • Improper editing

Minors’ names should not be published without the consent of their legal guardians. Likewise, the victims of sexual assault should not be named or described in a way that reveals their identity.

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Rachel Rippetoe

 

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The only reason I went to Larry Buchanan’s session on coding, mapping and reporting was because of the phrase “at the New York Times” attached to the end of its title.

I’ve always loved finding free templates for things like graphs, timelines, and calendars on the internet because they make me feel smart and techy without having to actually do much work, but coding felt like it belonged in the scary dark side of the web right next to hacking and Bitcoin. It was jumbled up letters and numbers that I didn’t understand and was always mildly terrified of. But then I saw the work that Larry did for The New York Times… and I knew it was something I had to learn.

As I’m writing this blog post, I’m struggling with how to describe the things he showed us accurately, and it just occurred to me that I can’t. The point is that the stuff Larry does is uniquely digital. It tells a story in a way that can’t be told in print. It takes you to the arctic and shows you exactly what the melting glaciers look like (in HD). It shows you every single home that was foreclosed in Detroit during the housing recession and it adds up all the money that was lost. It highlights every single crack (I am not exaggerating) that was recovered in a famous but decrepit church in New York City.

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The craziest thing: He does it in 15 seconds or less. No long article to read, no 3 minute video to listen to; all you have to do is scroll. Which, according to Larry, is what every American loves to do now: scroll. The analytics show that they don’t click on things and they don’t finish articles, but they can scroll through a feed and look at stuff for HOURS.

In theory, Larry should scare the shit out of me. As a person who loves to write and tell stories through her words and other people’s words, I feel like this guy has me beat. I mean some of his pieces didn’t even need an anchor paragraph let alone full written stories. The ones that did had the articles attached at the very bottom.

Yet Larry isn’t replacing us he’s supplementing us. He’s taking a boring local story about recovering an old church, one I probably wouldn’t read, and making it into an art piece I’d tell my mom about and anyone else who might listen.

I was sitting on my hands trying not to jump out of my seat as The New York Times graphic designer showed us all the work he and his team produced. This kind of stuff is perfect. It silences all the nay-sayers that say real journalism and real reporting are dying. It’s visually interesting and engaging but at the same time requires some real reporting too.

The most exciting thing about Larry is that he isn’t some highly functioning tech wizard. He wasn’t a computer science major in college. He studied journalism and taught himself how to code, thinking it would make him some money free-lancing. He never could’ve guessed it would eventually get him a desk and a byline at The New York Times.

I decided after listening to him speak, hearing about what he does, and seeing what he does, I want to be a Larry. I want to delve into the deep scary world of coding because no online template can produce the kind of visual art that Larry produces.

Here are some online tools and programs he told us about for coding, mapping, and learning how to code. The New York Times actually uses a lot of them.

For coding: (the obvious ones) HTML/CSS/Javascript, GA-Dash (for learning how to code, Raw, R (he calls this one scary but powerful), Quartz Chart Builder (for graphs)

For mapping: QGIS, Mapbox, Tilemill, Natural Earth, and Open Street Map

Other advice: focus on formatting for phones and tablets because that is what your readers are more likely to be using. Similarly, cut vertical videos for mobile phones so that readers don’t have to flip their device. Also, when working with data and interactive digital media, use google docs for a spread sheet instead of Excel because Excel doesn’t transfer as well to anything.

Here’s the website he showed during the session with all the samples I saw of his work. Be sure to check out the visuals he added to the Justin Bieber and Skrillex video the NYT put out a while back. (Bieber says some dumb stuff about music)

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Ben Arthur|

IMG_2329When I got off the subway, I couldn’t contain my excitement of being in Manhattan. It was my first time being in the city in nearly 10 years.

As I scurried up the steps and looked towards the sky as I emerged above ground, my jaw dropped. NYC was more amazing than what I remembered!

The high-rise buildings seem to brush against sky. Central Park is in one direction. I whipped my head in the other towards Times square, its bright lights radiating in every which-way.

One of the hardest things for me to fathom about Manhattan is that it is truly a city that never sleeps! It’s non-stop. Everyone always seems to have somewhere they need to be.

Strangely enough, I began comparing to this phenomenon to what you see in sports. In many different sports, game action comes quickly and with a blink of an eye, you can miss key plays (think basketball or volleyball). How in the world are you supposed to keep up with everything?

This is where the first CMA session I went to comes into play: Tweeting Live Sports

As a Sports Reporter, I got great tips about how to do game coverage like a pro. Here are some of the takeaways I got from the lecture:

  • Tweeting is live coverage; Multi-way communication, so don’t forget to interact with followers
  • Tweeting should be your observations from the game or sporting event (Story ideas can come from these observations!)
  • Don’t just tell your followers what’s happening, SHOW THEM (video, images, graphics,etc.)
  • Reporters should tweet during the game with their account, the main sports account or main news outlet account should only  RT the most important developments
  • Know the hashtags of opposing teams & use them (to get their followers, duh!)
  • Know the twitter accounts of all the coaches & players and @ them in tweets that involve them (You can get some of their followers if they RT you)
  • If you can’t answer why you’re posting a certain tweet, than it’s unnecessary!

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